EDWARD CADBURY CENTRE FOR THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION
The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, based in the Philosophy, Theology and Religion department at the University of Birmingham, was established in 2014 to enhance the public understanding of religion regionally, nationally and internationally through distinctive, strategic and engaged interdisciplinary research. We deliver innovative, impact-driven and internationally-excellent research exploring the significance of religious belief and practice for public and professional life, working with faith communities and policy makers to develop informed agendas for social transformation.
The aim of the Cadbury Centre is to explore and expand upon religious solutions to global socio-political problems, using an interdisciplinary lens and a multidimensional framework. The Centre endeavours to advance the understanding of the role of religion in social issues, culture, communication, economy and public policies in different national and international contexts. Our goal is to foster a unique intellectual capital by fostering a bi-disciplinary approach which combines social sciences and religious studies to explore the relevance of religion in different political and social aspects of life. We approach this in two ways. Firstly, most of the existing research centres address the role of religion in politics from either one discipline or another, not the two in tandem. In this respect, we are the only Centre of this kind to have scholars of politics and religion working in unison on the same issues, be it religious freedom, immigration, political violence or interfaith dialogue.
Secondly, we are the only Centre which moves beyond the binary of ‘Global North vs. South’, or the supposed ‘East-West divide’, by engaging directly with experts from the Global South we work to effectively mobilise under-studied topics and scholarship that is often limited to a non-Western scope.
The manner in which we address critical issues is not restricted to a particular from local to national and international levels without limiting ourselves to one level of analysis or intervention.
We believe that working at the interface of multiple disciplines is relevant to public debates on religion and politics. By bridging the gap between academia and policy-driven advocacy, the Cadbury Centre seeks to create a platform to synergise the knowledge generation, development and exchange between thinkers and shapers in a vast array of fields, in order to produce maximum social impact and political influence.
The CC vision is unique in its pragmatism, in that it intends to deepen the conceptual rigour of particular socio-political issues, so as to equip grassroots organisations with potential action plans, and the ability for academics and practitioners to work together to influence policy-makers. In this regard, we are convinced that academic rigour is not incompatible with meeting social impact targets and that scholars can produce fact-based knowledge to inform public policy.
The Centre is named in honour of Edward Cadbury (1873-1948), the Quaker economist and humanitarian who supported the establishment of the University’s Department of Theology and Religion from its institution. Cadbury was the grandson of the founder of the famous chocolate company, rising to become its managing director and later chairman. Cadbury was an enthusiastic advocate and generous supporter of education, social welfare and the study of religion, and a major benefactor of the University. Edward Cadbury’s passion for education, religion and social wellbeing were evident throughout his life and continue to be demonstrated in the grant-making strategy of the Edward Cadbury Trust which he established, and will, we hope, be reflected in the mission and work of the Centre that is proud to bear his name.
Our distinctive philosophy is realised in the manner in which we address issues from local to national and international levels without limiting ourselves to one level of analysis or intervention. As such, the Cadbury Centre combines research of the highest international quality with an engaged and community-focussed approach, which undergirds our academic rigour and objectivity, whilst anchoring its work in the real world. We have a wide array of collaborators from academia and advocacy on our current projects pertaining to religion in global politics that explore themes such as religion and pluralism, secularization and democratization, religion, nationalism and populism, and freedom of religion.